Water Stewardship

Water Stewardship

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Corporate water sustainability and respect for the human right to water are primary concerns of the Tri-State Coalition. Starting in the mid-1990s, the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment used its shareholder power to pressure General Electric (GE) to clean up the Hudson River, in which it had disposed of at least 1.3 million pounds of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). These efforts successfully pushed GE to report costs in legal and public relations fees related to delaying the SuperFund cleanup, which amounted to nearly $800 million. Tri-State CRI continues to monitor GE’s Hudson River cleanup and engage with the company to ensure that human and environmental health are restored to the River.

Our work on water has expanded beyond the Hudson to address corporate water risk throughout agricultural supply chains, primarily at food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Campbell’s, Tyson, and Archers Daniels Midland. In addition, we have addressed water risk with the Southern Company, which faces challenges related to coal ash disposal, and with oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing (or fracking).  Through these engagements, Tri-State CRI members have advocated for improved corporate water disclosure and risk management, including water risk mapping, developing and implementing human right to water policies, establishing water use reduction goals, and adopting comprehensive water stewardship plans to address water pollution.

Tri-State CRI engagement has led to a wide range of successes.  For example, Tri-State CRI member engagement with Campbell’s has helped the company position itself as a global leader on water sustainability, especially with its commitment to respect the Human Right to Water. Beverage companies engaged by Tri-State CRI are now leaders in the field, reducing water use and replenishing water resources to limit the impacts of their activities on local communities and ecosystems.  In the automotive sector, Ford and GM have been reporting to CDP and have extensive sustainability reports that address the broad range of impacts of their operations. In the more difficult agricultural sector, Tri-State CRI engagements with Tyson and ADM have prompted these corporations to begin reporting to CDP Water on their water risk management.

As our own members have undertaken efforts to educate themselves on issues related to water, Tri-State CRI also strives to raise awareness among corporations and shareholders about the increasing scarcity of water resources, to ensure that corporations take responsible actions to limit and restrict the pollution and overuse of water, and to address issues of control and privatization.

We are now meeting with beverage companies on these concerns. Additionally we are supporting other ICCR members in their work with international corporations purchasing water rights globally.

Resources:

ICCR’s Statement of Principles and Recommendations for Corporate Water Stewardship
ICCR: Framing the Dialogue on the Human Right to Water: Opportunities for Multi-stakeholder Collaboration
Toward Water Disclosure: Recommended Process Tools. 
CEO Water Mandate, Bringing a Human Rights Lens to Corporate Water Stewardship